Author(s): William Paul Young
Mackenzie Allen Phillips's youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later, in this midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change his life forever.
This is one of my favourite books. It's a beautifully told and insightful allegory that does not shy away from addressing the age old question - where is God in suffering?
Mackenzie has had a troubled background - a traumatic relationship with his father, but he has managed to piece together a life with his family - his wife Nan who has a deep-founded faith and calls God 'Papa', and his three children - Josh, Kate and the youngest - Missy. Mack takes his kids on a camping trip, but while he is distracted by a freak accident with his two older kids on the lake, Missy vanishes.
The clues all point to a child abductor - nicknamed the Little Ladykiller - and Mack is horrified when the the police take him to the scene of the crime - an old shack deep in the woods, with Missy's bloodstains and dress all that is left.
Needless to say, Mack falls into what is described as 'The Great Sadness' until one day he receives a letter, signed 'Papa', inviting him to the shack. Thinking it is some sick joke, though partly hoping it really is God, Mack returns to the place of his horror and after finding nothing there but his own pain staring him in the face, he goes to leave.
What comes next completely takes him aback - he finds the shack transformed into a flower-ridden haven with warmth, bustling activity and three people inhabiting it - a large Black woman (Papa), a middle eastern man (Jesus) and an Asian woman (the Holy Spirit). An embodiment of the Trinity, they walk him through his pain and show him truths about God's nature that are more loving and intimate than he ever could have dreamed. A novel that casts out a lot of stale, religious notions about God. I would recommend to anyone - it's a breath of fresh air. Jemma
WM. PAUL YOUNG was born a Canadian and raised among a Stone Age tribe by his missionary parents in the highlands of former New Guinea. He suffered great loss as a child and young adult and now enjoys the "wastefulness of grace" with his family in the Pacific Northwest. He is also the author of Cross Roads and Eve.